The people behind the marketing cannot be blamed for the atrocity that is “Vertical Limit.” The action-packed trailer really rocks showing some spectacular stunts and the poster features an image of climbers hanging off a menacing cliff. They even kept the fact that the film stars Chris O’Donnell as quiet as possible. O’Donnell is almost absent from the marketing campaign, which is a plus in my book. It’s resulted in some respectable boxoffice, but the movie still is laughable.
Here’s the story: Chris O’Donnell is determined to rescue his sister who is trapped on K-2 — the second highest mountain peak in the world. O’Donnell’s sister is stuck on the mountain with an arrogant billionaire played by the crafty Bill Paxton. Scott Glenn appears as a toeless, nutcase who joins the mission if everyone does precisely what he says. Sure. The rescue mission may look dangerous, but this phony-looking action movie will have you laughing in all the wrong places. In one particularly gut-busting scene, Chris O’Donnell explains how dangerous this rescue mission may be. “This isn’t just any mountain, there’s not just snow. There’s ice and rock!” Bwaa-ha-ha! The audience burst into spontaneous laughter at O’Donnell’s delivery of this ridiculous dialog. Well, it least it had some laughs. We soon discover that Scott Glenn has an alterior motive — to get his revenge against Paxton. Oh, Glenn is also searching for the body of his wife, lost a year ago on the mountain and he just happens to find her perfectly preserved on the mountainside like a mannequin. Just try not to laugh? Aside from the laughable drama, the special effects varied drastically in quality — sometimes spectacular and then completely fake. It seemed as if many of the scenes were shot on a nice and cozy warm backlot. I mean, in below freezing weather, shouldn’t we be able to see the actor’s cold breath? In another scene, two rescue climbers become the victims of an avalanche. Intercut with the oncoming avalanche is the terrified reactions on the climbers faces. The avalanche footage is slightly out of focus with scratches making it quite clear that the actors are merely afraid of a bunch of stock footage. It’s pretty sad that the stock footage in the film is better than the actual film shot by the moviemakers. If flushing money down a toilet amuses you, then run to see “Verical Limit!” Otherwise, avoid at all costs.